Belen police are asking the public to help identify a man who they say robbed a local businessman at gunpoint Monday morning.
William Payne, owner of Kustom Trophy in Belen, was opening up his shop Monday morning when he was confronted behind his business by a man holding a gun. Belen Detective Nephy Valdez said Payne had been taking out the trash when an unknown male came from behind him and demanded money.
“He (Payne) was walking back inside when the male came up behind him with a gun and asked for his money,” Valdez said. “The owner of the business gave him his wallet, and he said he thought he had also given him his keys.”
Valdez said, after the owner turned over his wallet containing money and credit cards, the robber told Payne to walk back into the business. The two men walked to the front of the store where the man told Payne to open up the register.
“He gave him about $80 from the register,” Valdez said. “They walked back to the back of the building when the suspect just took off.”
According to Valdez, Payne wasn’t able to see the direction the man left. “We were on scene within minutes,” Valdez said. “We searched the area for about an hour and a half, but we couldn’t find him.”
Valdez said officers also searched H.T. Jaramillo Ele-mentary School, which is located behind Kustom Trophies. Valdez said he was worried about the students’ safety, noting that student’s had been showing up for class when the robbery took place.
“We searched throughout the school, but we didn’t find anything,” he said.
Valdez said Payne wasn’t able to give a very good description of the man who reportedly robbed him. The man was reportedly wearing a black shirt and blue jeans and stood about five-feet-six-inches tall.
If anyone has information on this case, call Detective Nephy Valdez at the Belen Police Department at 864-6288.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.